An open letter to Vanessa Veselka:
I'll preface this by saying that I am a fan (lower-case "f")
-- but I am not a "Fan" (upper-case; tinged with craziness)
Illustration: I don't have all your lyrics memorized; I don't own any The Pinkos albums; I haven't read your novel (sorry: nowadays I only read non-fiction -- mostly about guitars, recording techniques, and woodworking). And I just don't have the time or the sense of focus to be an adequate stalker.
And, of course, I now live in Australia. Too far to telecommute.
However, I do very much enjoy the songs of your band Bell
(1990s; Seattle). I have all three of your albums. And **somewhere** I have a CD where I dubbed the songs from your red demo cassette tape, the blue demo cassette tape, and your KGRG radio interview.
And I do end up wearing my red "Yeah, It's Rock" t-shirt about six times a year. It depends on which end of the closet I start from.
Anyhow, I recently re-discovered my stash of Bell albums, in which you were the songwriter, guitarist, and singer (possibly in that order). Back in the day my Bell CDs were in heavy rotation. Since moving to Australia, however, they've slid out of sight -- partly because I no longer have music playing all the time around the house (The Lady prefers the quiet).
A few points:
-Although I was always wary of the classification "grunge" -- especially since the term was coined by someone outside the Seattle scene -- I never thought of your music as being within that genre. But now, nearly 20 years later... OK, yeah: I can see Bell as part of that larger "sound".
-It's a crying shame that -- for whatever reason -- you guys weren't as big as Nirvana (or at least Pearl Jam). I don't get it. (No, I don't get it; I don't, don't get it...)
-Your first album, A Clear Sense of Beauty
, is a masterpiece. I would say it has as many hits as Nirvana's Nevermind
. I particularly enjoy "Loose & Unsubdued", "Attempted Pop Song #1", and "Upon Greater Reflection". "Upon Greater Reflection" is, in fact, on my (fairly long) list of "Songs to Cover". One of these days.
-As of today, there are now at least two copies of A Clear Sense of Beauty
in Australia: mine, plus the one that I bought online to give to a co-worker who is my age and appreciates "1990s Seattle scene" music: indoctrination.
-I typically list Bell as one of my Top 10 favorite bands or artists ever. For comparison, the other bands are probably Buddy Holly, The Cars, Devo, The Ramones, They Might Be Giants, Material Issue, The Smithereens, Fountains of Wayne, Michael Penn, Regina Spektor, Laptop, Chromeo and Quiet Storm
. (Well, I'd have to trim some to make it **truly** "Top 10". But it's indicative.) I don't know if that's company you wish to keep; but hopefully it's complimentary.
-Your Wikipedia page implies that you're no longer "doing music". I just wanted to say -- as one songwriter to another -- that not everyone can write a good song. Fewer still can manage to write **more** than one. So, no matter what else you accomplish in life: hey, you've achieved. Nicely done. :)
-Finally: Long ago, I said "Good songwriting." (Examples: "I've thrown rubies to the sea"
as imagery for futile watefulness: sheer genius. And rhyming it with "...but it all fell to debris"
: who the heck uses "debris" in a rhyme scheme? Well done.) I'm just re-listening to A Clear Sense of Beauty
in my CD-ROM drive on my laptop, through the built-in speakers (and subconsciously inferring the insubstantial bass from memory...). Good guitar playing, as well -- e.g. the massive string bends on "Transit". And the singing's good, of course.
Hope all is well, and that you have a marvellous life. :)
--Gye Greene (the pseudonym of an old fan)
Labels: bands, Bell (the band), songs, songwriting